There’s a cornerstone of Western thought, called The Golden Rule. Basically, it says (as it says in the Bible), “Do unto others as you would want done to you.”
But it isn’t just in the Bible. Aesop, the Greek storyteller talked about it 4,000 years ago:
The wind and the sun are squabbling. They are arguing over who is more powerful. They agree to settle it with a competition.
How do they compete?
They decide to test their strength by trying to take a traveler’s coat off.
The wind tries first. He sends gust after gust of a cold, forceful, and blustering gale at the traveler. His strategy is to try to tear the coat off.
The traveler only pulls his coat tighter.
The sun scoffs at the wind’s foolishness. It’s his turn.
What does the sun do?
He sends ray after ray of warm, kind, and loving sunshine at the traveler.
What does the traveler do?
He takes his own coat off.
Kindness, gentleness, and sophisticated persuasion win where force, compulsion, and coercion fail.
People want to be persuaded, not pushed or pulled; led, not commanded.
Don’t fall into this trap.
Be the sun, not the wind.
Lead with respect for their autonomy. Some of the most persuasive words in the English language are “it’s up to you” and “the choice is yours.”
— Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void
“Kindness, gentleness, and sophisticated persuasion…” these are the tools of the savviest fundraisers. Because they know their job is not about money, but love, empathy and understanding.
When you get inside your donor’s head, you’re best prepared to make a match between their passions and yours. You won’t succeed by using guilt or coercion. Maybe a little, but it’s not the stuff of which warm, loyal, mutually beneficial, longstanding relationships are made.
I’m here today with some summer reading – a whole beach bag filled with curated resources from across the web — all to make your job of facilitating philanthropy easier. I hope you’ll find resources in this newsletter to help you lead with respect for the autonomy of others. No more “us” and them;” only “we.” That’s how you’ll help repair the world.
Thanks again to my Clairity Click-it sponsor, Bloomerang, for making it possible for me to spend the time hunting and gathering. Find a topic that interests you, and… click away!
It is my sincere pleasure and honor to help you find the ideas, strategies, templates and tools you need to make our world a better place.
Thank you for doing such vital work, and giving to others on a regular basis,
P.S. Want to resolve to be an active learner next year? Your support via enrollment in ‘Clairification School’ means a lot, and I am deeply appreciative. This is what enables me to deliver original articles direct to your in-box every week, give you access to all my webinars, and offer up exclusive monthly tips, bonuses and more!
Clairity Click-it, Your Nonprofit Ticket to…
SPECIAL FEATURE: SURVIVING THE ZEITGEIST
Click-it: 7 Fundraising Tips for Surviving the Apocalypse of 2022. There’s a lot going on in the world, and it all impacts your donors. The editors at The Agitator-DonorVoice weigh in with tips for doing what you must to save your mission and simultaneously make donors feel good about helping.
Click-it: The Effect of Inflation on Charitable Giving. Duke Haddad writes in Nonprofit Pro about three ways inflation is likely to impact charities, ranging from staffing, changes in demand and donations. One big take-away: It is important that nonprofits now review the standard donation levels on appeals and websites to ensure amounts requested are in line with costs incurred delivering services.
Click-it: How to Easily Start Accepting Cryptocurrency Donations at Your Nonprofit [Click to listen to free podcast]. Love it or hate it, some of your donors own it. What will you say when they want to donate it to you? The folks at The Giving Block and Direct Relief answer FAQs on NonprofitProVoice.
Click-it: Giving USA 2022: Understanding America’s Philanthropic Landscape [Register for free webinar, 7-12-2022]. The events of 2020-2021 will forever change the nonprofit community and philanthropy. Learn the results of the recently released Giving USA Report, including how COVID-19 changed the way we fundraise and communicate with donors; how funders and nonprofits are altering operations to be more diverse and inclusive, and how to apply this research to your organization’s strategy and approach. Qgiv hosts Karen Rotko-Wynn, Alford Group.
Click-it: 4 Quick Tips to Remember When Planning an Advocacy Campaign. Erin Mulligan Nelson, Bonterra, shows how to stay on top of all your campaign’s moving pieces on the Top Nonprofits blog. The overarching message? Think (and plan) first; launch next.
Annual (Year-Round) Fundraising
Click-it: Fundraisers, what do we need to do now? Think about your role, and how you can help more than just the beneficiaries of your cause. I talk about this all the time, and it’s nice to see Mary Cahalane, Hands-on Fundraising, agree. She writes: “fundraising is capable of helping both donors and beneficiaries. And you’re the conduit.”
Click-it: Branding for Non Profit Organizations: The Definitive Guide. Here’s a good piece from Anthem Marketing on the difference between branding and marketing. Your brand is the promise you make to consumers; it’s something you must follow through on.
Digital Fundraising and Marketing
Click-it: 10 Years of Decoding What Works in Online Fundraising. This article from the fundraising scientists at NextAfter is pure GOLD. If you’re too small to do meaningful A/B testing yourself, borrow from these experts who generously share the results of all the experiments they’ve developed on behalf of other nonprofits. I was fascinated by the results of the “downgraded ask” experiment. There’s also one to help you transform your monthly giving program overnight. And so much more!
Click-it: Link Shorteners: Why, How, Huh?. Here’s something super practical from the Rally Corp team. Learn everything you need to know about why you’d want to shrink your links, how to do it, and all the pros and cons of some of the most commonly available tools. Plus get new options you may not have heard about.
Click-it: Go MICRO And Improve Your Response Rates in New Donor Acquisition. Since the trend is fewer new donors but larger average gifts, targeting your mailing makes more sense than ever. Rather than a “leave no stone unturned” strategy, this article on the Bloomerang blog recommends a different approach.
Click-it: Four Things That All Donors Want. The Veritus Group are particular experts in major gift fundraising, yet the fundamentals in this article hold true for donors at all levels. For me, #2 is perhaps where most nonprofits fall down on the job – and it’s super important. And #4 is the heart of philanthropy.
Click-it: Sustainable Events: How to Organize Attendees and Reduce Waste. Learn from the experts at Eventgroove how small changes can add up to a big difference! Begin by considering how you manage ticketing and organize attendees. The goal: cut down on waste to create a green event.
Click-it: How to Market Your Nonprofit’s Next Auction Event: Crash Course. Grab some tips from the folks at Wired Impact to maximize engagement and bids at your next offline or online auction. Markets, channels and strategies – it’s all here.
Click-it: Oh No! Your Donor Just Made a Mega Gift to Another Nonprofit! When a donor makes a gift to another similar organization, clearly the staff team dropped the ball. This article from the Gail Perry Group discusses five reasons this terrible situation can occur, and what you can do to avoid them.
Psychology of Giving
Click-it: Which Is the Best Call to Action Button Color? Here’s What Research Shows. Color does influence people, and you can grab some examples in this article from OptinMonster. However, they advise instead of trying to find the “perfect” color, go for the color that increases the visibility of your call-to-action. With this simple and proven approach, you can virtually guarantee an increase in conversions.
WEBINARS, PODCASTS, COURSES & ON-DEMAND AUDIO RESOURCES
If you can’t attend live, or are interested in sessions happening at overlapping times, note many are available via recording – but ONLY if you REGISTER!
Culture of Philanthropy
Click-it: How to Break Down the Silos [Register for free webinar, 6-29-2022; alternate dates available]. Any webinar by Dr. Russell James is worth your time, and this one hosted by Market Smart will be no exception. If you’ve ever felt alone, unsupported, scapegoated or worse, learn some strategies to get everyone rowing your organizational boat together – in the same direction.
Click-it: How to Defeat Fundraising’s Silent Enemy: Donor Attrition [Register for free webinar, 6-29-2022]. Jay Wilkinson, Firespring, is one of my favorite presenters. I promise you’ll learn a LOT. How to establish an effective web presence that retains donors; why donors leave, and what to do about it; 6 key drivers that can double the lifetime value of your donors, and more!
Click-it: The Grant Hunt Simplified [Take the free online course].With this free course from Grantli, you’ll learn the most efficient way to search for grants, the difference between private foundation and community foundation grants, how to master grant search databases, and much more – including free templates!
Click-it: How To Get, Lead And Follow Up In Meetings [Listen to on-demand podcast]. This episode of The Influential Nonprofit with Maryanne Dersch, Courageous Communication, discusses how to use influence to get, lead and follow up in meetings. Learn ways to show up as a leader to a meeting, including doing less pitching and more listening.
Major Gift Fundraising
Click-it: How To Get, Lead And Follow Up In Meetings [Click to access free podcast]. Maryanne Dersch, Courageous Communication, offers great tips. I like the one about how to close a donor meeting.
Click-it: Your Next Appeal: From Interview to Fundraising Story [Click to listen; read transcript]. The Fundraising Writing blog shares a 3-step process – interview; transcript; story of need – to create compelling fundraising appeals.
Click-it: The Big Giving USA Reveal—What Did We See in 2021? What Does This Mean for Philanthropy? [Register for free session, 6-27-2022]. Want to grab the biggest headlines from the Giving USA 2021 Report? AFP Greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans hosts Barbara O’Reilly, Windmill Hill Consulting, for a presentation of key data and a panel discussion of take-aways.
DOWNLOADABLE GUIDES, WHITE PAPERS & OTHER RESOURCES
Database/Constituent Relationship Management
Click-it: The Ultimate Guide to Selecting a Nonprofit CRM [Download now]. I often get questions on this, so… here’s a whole book from the folks at Charity Engine to help you develop an RFP and find the best database solution to help you establish and nurture supporter relationships. If you want to take a side-by-side look at a number of CRM options out there, read this.
Digital Fundraising and Marketing
Click-it: How to Use Data to Take Your Fundraising to New Heights [Download free white paper]. Take online fundraising to the next level by learning how to gather, analyze, and use data from past campaigns to uncover trends and find new opportunities to improve future fundraising results. Grab this from Cathexis Partners.
Click-it: Win Them Back: The Fundraiser’s [Download free e-Guide]. Learn from Steven Shattuck, Bloomerang, why donors lapse or stay loyal, a 3-step approach to re-engage them, the two hardest channels to retain, what to do about them, and more.
Click-it: 25 Storytelling Interview Questions for Nonprofit [Download free cheat sheet]. Here’s a great list of questions to help you tell your bests stories ever. From Vanessa Chase Lockshin, The Storytelling Nonprofit.
Did You Miss My Newest Articles?
- Play to Your Strengths: Where Do You Add Most Value?
- Be Your Donor Week
- Proven 1-2-3 to Nonprofit Fundraising Success
- The Giant Mid-Level Fundraising Opportunity Your Nonprofit’s Missing
- How to Overcome Nonprofit Fundraising Myths
- Avoid these Key Obstacles to Successful Major Gift Asks
- Proven Strategies to Take Charge of Major Donor Asks
Finally… if you have a question, any question… Check out my free fundraising advice column on the Bloomerang blog! Ask your question here. And bookmark the Ask an Expert page for any time you have a question! Here’s one you may find helpful: How Do Nonprofits Raise More Money Through Their Newsletters?
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I really do wish every small nonprofit would read what you write. Best fundraising read of the week (maybe the month). Thank-you for sharing with us all.
–BT Irwin, Small Nonprofit Coach
You are having a ripple effect in the many nonprofits you inspire through folks like me – and I hope you experience the joy in that every day. Thank you for sending out such great resources. I look forward to your regular emails and the helpful content you deliver.
– Jennifer M. Standen, Development Manager, Bethany Christian Services
I am convinced Claire Axelrad is the smartest person in fundraising. Her articles are impeccably researched, deeply thoughtful, and invariably useful to me. Thank you, Claire.
-Tom Ahern, Ahern Donor Communications
My motto is: “If I know it, I want you to know it.” Don’t miss out.